A monolithic beauty standard has long since ruled the preferred look until recently. Nowadays, more natural standards are taking the world by storm and even Korea is being swept in this new wave. Beauty standards in the fashion industry used to require models to be extremely skinny, with fair skin. To be considered beautiful, you either adapted or were ignored for not following the beauty trends that were in vogue. As a result, people chasing approval from the masses conformed to a preset standard leading to monotonous and overused look. More importantly, it led some people develop eating disorders in order to meet these unnatural standards. However, as the problems with this worn-out look surfaced societies around the world shifted valuing diversity that comes with natural beauty.
|▲ A plus-size model walking down New York Fashion Week runway for Ashley Nell Tipton's plus-size collection (Photo by Frazer Harrison to Getty Images)|
The boom of the plus-size model in the fashion industry is a strong indication that this trend is taking root. Plus-size models, who were not skinny enough in the past, to represent the fashion industry are taking over and there is an increased interest in plus sized fashion coming from around the world. This shift in focus more naturally weighted models was proven during the 10th cycle of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ which was won by plus-size contestant, Whitney Thompson. Additionally, another plus-size contestant, Ashley Graham, later returned to the show to act as a judge. IMG Models, one of the most renowned modeling agencies, in charge of supermodels such as Kate Moss and Candice Swanelpoel, recently launched a plus-size model division. The agency’s new division is called ‘Brawn’ and Zack Miko became the first brawn IMG model. These milestones are widening the career opportunities for plus-size models from simple adverts to runways. Plus-sized models are also considered great role models for the general public encouraging a sense of self love and end to body shamming.
Meanwhile, ‘nude-toned’ was a hipster’s makeup trend that failed to consider what would a nude tone for all races. Consumers seeking a nude tone were faced with a single choice, of ‘peachy beige’. Even women’s underwear in peachy beige was labelled nude-tone for decades. But nowadays, people are finally realizing that there is no one size fits all nude tone. Recently, the underwear brand Naja launched a new collection with the revolutionary catchphrase ‘One Nude? So Rude; Nude for All’. Naja’s nude-toned underwear comes in 7 colors from pale to dark. Louboutin, an iconic shoes brand that sells high heeled pumps, also jumped on to the extension of nude-tones. Christian Louboutin, the designer, stated that he used to have a prejudice for light or beige nude-tones unti his colleague pointed out that beige was not their skin color. Before those product line extensions, many people were left out of the market, unable to find the right nude-tone for themselves. Furthermore, for people with light skin, finding a foundation with the right color for their skin seemed difficult because countless brands sold items with subtle color differences. However, a subtle difference means everything with makeup. In contrast, people with darker skin tones literally couldn’t find the right foundation because makeup brands simply did not produce dark colors, nor did they care to listen to the complaints of their darker skinned customers. Makeup brands simply did not make enough effort to develop darker foundations. This is what led Rihanna, the popular singer, to launch Fenty Beauty, with a foundation that comes in 40 different shades, number that was never before seen for foundation color options.
|▲ Christian Louboutin's 'Nudes for All' campaign. (Picture from Christian Louboutin)|
The traditional preference towards fair skin had undermined the self-esteem of Asian and black people. Black and Asian models were not commonly found in top brand commercials. Even when they did, their appearance was accompanied by phrases such as ‘chocolate-like shiny skin’, while fair skinned white models were described as having ‘flawless skin’.
This new beauty trend of respecting diversity means a lot to those people who questioned their own beauty because they were outside the normative standard look. Now that the trend has changed, people are becoming more confident and comfortable with their own appearance. Furthermore, these changes are seen as a significant step forward in improving human rights.
|▲ Fashion industry has been reigned by extremely thin models for a couple of decades. (Alexander McQueen fashion show)|
High fashion industries have always hired extremely skinny models and still today a majority of brands force young women and men to last the day having eaten only an apple. To combat this dangerous trend, the French National Assembly decided to regulate this crooked tradition of creating excessively thin body images. Fashion models who work in France now have to get a medical certification from a doctor that states they are healthy. Under this new law, photographs that are manipulated have to be marked that they are retouched. With the launch of this new policy, France’s Ministry of Health announced that concerns over anorexia were the driving force behind the new rules. They stated that too many people were being affected by these unrealistic body images indoctrinated by the fashion industry. “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior,” Health and Social Affair Minister Marisol Touraine said. Similar anorexia prevention actions can be found in Spain, Italy, and Israel.
Though the changes in our society’s perception of beauty is good news, we must recognize that we still have a long way to go. Chardline-Faiteau, a plus size fashion blogger, once said, “I guess it’s always going to be the same song for us; If you are a plus-size and comfortable with yourself, you are going to be the model for confidence. To me, there is always an underlying message with that, and it sounds like, ‘You are very brave for being your size and accepting yourself,’” Although plus-size models are delivering encouraging messages of confidence and self-esteem, we have not fully embraced the new ‘beautiful’. We still recognize it as something special and something unusual. The existence of this very article proves it. Being natural and sporting the look that one chooses should be considered conventionally beautiful. Hopefully achieving this goal is not too far off in the future.
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